Regína sacratíssimi Rosárii, ora pro nobis!

Evil, Lesser Evil, or Relative Good?

28 October AD 2008—Ss. Simon and Jude, Apostles

To the several people
who asked me about 
the morality of voting for 
the candidate they considered 
most moral, and possibly
thereby allowing the least moral
to win election:

    If I understand your question correctly, we can reduce the situation under consideration to that of (A) a more evil person, (B) a less evil person, and (C) a generally good person. Given this situation, we are asking whether it is permissible or even obligatory to vote for the less evil person, rather than for the generally good person, if this course of action will keep the more evil person out of office.

    The question presupposes a number of things.

    The first being the existence of a moral calculus to rank A, B, and C in terms of just how evil they are. Are 50 abortions the moral equivalent of 50 cold blooded murders of innocent adults? Or does it take 100 murders to equal the 50 abortions? Are 50 abortifacient contraceptions less or more evil than 50 surgical abortions? Is there some number of involuntary servitudes, or some number of beatings or rapes or thefts from the poor, or thefts in general, that equal a murder? Indeed, can numbers be used at all?—a society that accepts evil in small numbers and kinds is a society that accepts evil, and may well allow circumstances to change the numbers and kinds of evil when it is convenient.

    The second presupposition being that if we had such a moral calculus, the Church would require us absolutely to commit ourselves to replace the man with 95 units of evil with another who has only 80 units. We may materially cooperate with evil to avoid greater evils, but are we required to do so? When an evil end and a good end are foreseen, we may act with the intention of obtaining the good end, but are we required to do so?

    A third presupposition is that voting for B will defeat A with a good probability of success.

    Another presupposition is that we are obliged to act now, without regard to the effect that our action will have in the future. Every election we hear that we must “hold our noses and vote for B, otherwise A will get elected.” Continuing to do so has moved us from B's with 50 on the evil-meter to 80, while simultaneously the A's have moved from 65 to 95. The only thing that will convince the party of B that they should have run C for election is the crashing defeat of B, and probably for a number of times. The nation is like an automobile with its steering wheel chained a bit to the side—if one lets go, the car goes slightly to the side—if one pulls the wheel, the car goes more to that side—to keep the auto from running off the road, only cutting the chain will do.

    I have attached a passage from Pope Pius XII's 1948 letter to the Roman clergy. Italian politics had been controlled by Freemasonic socialists going back to the time of Napoleon and before. In Pope Pius' time, the Communists were a rising power. Certainly, Pope Pius was far more concerned with Stalinist Communists than with the tired old Socialists in the Italian government. You will notice that Pius insisted that eligible people must vote, calling abstention “for laziness or cowardice ... a grave sin, a mortal fault”. You will note also that the Pope did not call on Catholics to vote for Socialists when they thought that Catholics could not win. He told them to give their votes to those candidates or those lists of candidates, which offer sufficient guarantees truly to protect the rights of God and souls for the true good of individuals, families and society, according to the law of God and Christian moral teaching.

    It came to me this morning at Mass that our Lord has already answered the question when he ridiculed the idea of casting out devils by invoking Beelzebub, or casting out Satan by Satan (Matthew xii: 25-28; Luke xi: 14-20). One had better not make a pact with Screwtape or Wormwood in order to be free of Satan. “Every kingdom divided against itself, shall be brought to desolation,”

    I welcome any other ideas you may have developed about the problem of voting for the good instead of for the “lesser of two evils.”

INCONTRO CON I PARROCI E IL CLERO DELLA DIOCESI DI ROMA
DISCORSO DI SUA SANTITÀ PIO XII
"UNA BEN INTIMA GIOIA"
Mercoledì, 10 marzo 1948 

MEETING WITH PARISH PRIESTS AND THE CLERGY OF THE DIOCESE OF ROME
ADDRESS OF HIS HOLINESS PIUS XII 
"A VERY INTIMATE JOY"
Wednesday, 10 March 1948

. . . . . . . . . . . .
I gravi doveri e le speranze dell'ora  The major duties and hopes of the time
Voi ben conoscete diletti figli, i doveri che vi premono e vi stringono in quest'ora così grave, e Noi stessi li abbiamo in tante occasioni esposti, che stimeremmo superfluo di tornare ancora una volta su questo tema. Affinché però non sembri che Noi Ci chiudiamo nel silenzio in un momento di così grandi conseguenze, ripeteremo con gli Apostoli: Non possiamo non parlare: Non possumus non loqui [3], e riepilogheremo qui brevemente alcuni princìpi fondamentali. You know well beloved children, the duties that worry and agitate you so gravely at this, and We know that they present themselves on many occasions, that We esteem it worthwhile to return once again to this issue. But so that it does not seem that We are wrapped in silence at a time of such great consequence, We repeat with the Apostles: "We can not speak: Non possumus non loqui" [3], so briefly We summarize here some basic principles.
È vostro diritto e dovere di attirare l'attenzione dei fedeli sulla straordinaria importanza delle prossime elezioni e sulla responsabilità morale che ne deriva a tutti coloro i quali hanno il diritto di voto. Senza dubbio la Chiesa intende restare al di fuori e al di sopra dei partiti politici; ma come potrebbe rimanere indifferente alla composizione di un Parlamento, al quale la Costituzione dà il potere di legiferare in materie che riguardano così direttamente i più alti interessi religiosi e le condizioni di vita della Chiesa stessa in Italia? Vi sono poi anche altre ardue questioni, soprattutto i problemi e le lotte economiche, che toccano da vicino il benessere del popolo. In quanto esse sono di ordine temporale (sebbene concernano anche l'ordine morale), gli uomini di Chiesa nelle congiunture presenti lasciano ad altri la cura di ponderarle e di trattarle tecnicamente per la comune utilità della Nazione. Da tutto ciò consegue:  It is your right and duty to draw the attention of the faithful to the extraordinary importance of the upcoming elections and moral responsibility that comes to all those who have the right to vote. Without doubt the Church intends to remain outside and above political parties, but how could She remain indifferent to the composition of a parliament, which the Constitution gives the power to legislate on matters that relate so directly to the highest interests and the religious conditions of life of the Church in Italy? There are also other difficult issues, especially issues and economic struggles, which closely affect the welfare of the people. Because they are of the temporal order(although concern the moral order), men of the Church, in these circumstances, leave to others the task of pondering them and treating them technically for the common benefit of the nation. From this follows:
1. Che, nelle presenti circostanze, è stretto obbligo per quanti ne hanno il diritto, uomini e donne, di prender parte alle elezioni. Chi se ne astiene, specialmente per indolenza o per viltà, commette in sé un peccato grave, una colpa mortale.  1. That, in these circumstances it is of strict obligation to those who have the right, men and women, to participate in elections. Those who will refrain, especially for laziness or cowardice, commit in itself, a grave sin, a mortal fault.
2. Ognuno ha da votare secondo il dettame della propria coscienza. Ora è evidente che la voce della coscienza impone ad ogni sincero cattolico di dare il proprio voto a quei candidati o a quelle liste di candidati, che offrono garanzie veramente sufficienti per la tutela dei diritti di Dio e delle anime, per il vero bene dei singoli, delle famiglie e della società, secondo la legge di Dio e la dottrina morale cristiana.  2. Everyone has to vote according to the dictates of his own conscience. It is now clear that the voice of conscience requires every sincere Catholic to give his votes to those candidates or those lists of candidates, which offer sufficient guarantees truly to protect the rights of God and souls, for the true good of individuals, families and society, according to the law of God and Christian moral teaching.
http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/pius_xii/speeches/1948/documents/hf_p-xii_spe_19480310_intima-gioia_it.html
(Emphasis supplied).

in XTO,
Fr. Brusca
Send him mail

This article can be viewed full screen at
http://www.rosarychurch.net/comment/lesser_evil.html

[ Home Page ]

[ Comment Archives ]

 



Dei via est íntegra
Our Lady of the Rosary, 144 North Federal Highway (US#1), Deerfield Beach, Florida 33441  954+428-2428
Authentic  Catholic Mass, Doctrine, and Moral Teaching -- Don't do without them -- 
Don't accept one without the others!